College pilgrims follow in St. Augustine’s footsteps

Merrimack College pilgrims on the 17th annual Pellegrinaggio left campus St. Patrick's Day for Italy, on a quest to learn more about St. Augustine and the religious order he founded.

Twenty three students and alumni are traveling with four faculty and staff, including the Rev. Ray Dlugos, O.S.A.

“The three learning goals for the Pellegrinaggio are for students to learn about St. Augustine’s life and work, especially about his five years in Italy; to learn about the international Order of St. Augustine, its history and spirituality; and, to form an Augustinian community of learning and of mutual support as they travel together during the Pellegrinaggio,” said professor Joseph Kelley, director for the Center for the Study of Jewish Christian Muslim Relations.

Before departure, Fr. Dlugos presided over Mass for the pilgrims and their families in Our Mother of Good Counsel Chapel in Austin Hall, at which each traveler received the traditional wood Augustinian cross.

The students, alumni, faculty and staff are visiting sites that were important in the life of St. Augustine and his spiritual journey but aren’t visiting Africa.

“We visit cities and towns where Augustine himself lived during his five years in Italy,” said Kelley.  “These include Milan and Cassago Brianza in the north, and Rome and Ostia in central Italy. We also go to regions associated with the beginning of the Augustinian Order, such as Tuscany.”

The Rev. Jim Wenzel, O.S.A., started the Pellegrinaggio, which is Italian for “pilgrimage,” for faculty and staff. After several years the pilgrimage was opened to students, alumni and school benefactors. Students are now required to take Kelley’s four-credit course “Journey in Search of Augustine” to qualify for the trip.

The pilgrims are scheduled to return home March 26.



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